Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) held New Teacher Orientation Aug. 17 to 19 — a three-day hybrid of virtual and in-person training. Topics covered include an analysis of standards, curriculum and instructional resources, classroom management in a virtual world, and training on Synergy, the student management system. Other training targeted each grade, subject, or educational program. CCPS has hired 149 new teachers for this school year. The school system has 33 teaching positions open as of mid-August.  

This school year will start unlike any other in the history of CCPS. Students return to school on Aug. 31, without physically going into buildings. Teachers will conduct classes virtually.

“The not knowing what it’s going to be like,” is a question, Hannah Brown, an early interventionalist at F.B. Gwynn Educational Center, said. “… Not knowing what to expect. But I’m looking forward to the opportunity to build relationships with my students’ families. That’s an upside.”

Brown’s mother is an occupational therapist who inspired her to want to work with children with special needs. Working at Gwynn is a sort of homecoming for Brown who will set up in the same classroom she helped out in while in the Teacher Academy of Maryland (TAM) program at La Plata High School.

Charmen Holbrook taught kindergarten for two years in Prince George’s County Public Schools before coming to CCPS where she’ll teach the same grade at J.P. Ryon Elementary School. She is still working on different ways to keep her students engaged and energized, knowing she will have to bring something extra. “I’m going to make it as interactive as possible,” she said. “There has to be something fun to engage them.”

Middle-school band students seem eager to get back to school and their instruments, Zoë Smith, a new instrumental music teacher at Mattawoman Middle School, found out.

Smith recently moved to the area with her husband, a trumpet player in the U.S. Navy Band Cruisers. Smith, who also plays the trumpet, was influenced to go into teaching after having college professors who worked with her improve her musical skills. “I wanted to give that back to someone else,” she said. “I wanted to help kids.”

“Figuring out how to teach when the kids can’t be together, playing at once,” might prove to be a challenge, she said. But Smith is heartened to see that starting the school year virtually didn’t dampen students’ interest in band. “I was happy to see that so many kids still signed up for band, even though band is not what it used to be.”

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